Again, for the 2013 Legislative Session, the preference list feature is available in the LAWS System.
The Preference List is a feature of the LAWS system that allows users to create and maintain their own list(s) of bills, and bill drafts. This is a fast and easy way for LAWS system users to track a group, or groups, of bills throughout the legislative session.
This free service provides time savings for LAWS users who track large numbers of bills. As a user of this feature you establish your own account. Having an account allows you to create and maintain lists of bills. Then, with minimal clicks you can retrieve the latest status for all of the bills on your list. You can create and use up to twenty-five lists on your individual preference account.
Preference List users can also choose to have hearing schedule notifications sent to them via email. If you so choose, notifications will be sent for those bills scheduled for committee hearings within 7 days of the current date. Cancellation and change notifications will also be sent via email. You can read more about receiving e-mail notifications here.
A popular feature since 2007, a"default" toggle is included on the Update Preference List page and the advanced maintenance Edit Preference List page. The toggle can be set to either 'Yes' or 'No' to automatically default the 'Notify of Hearing' column. By setting the toggle to either 'Yes' or 'No,' any bills added to your preference list, from that point forward, will have the 'Notify of Hearing' flag set to match the toggle. It will only affect bills added to your list after being set and will not change any current 'Notify of Hearing' settings. Also, the 'toggle' will not prevent you from manually resetting the 'Notify of Hearing' flag for individual bills by using the toggle in the 'Notify of Hearing' column itself. You can read more about this feature here.
Preference List users also have the ability to log off from their Preference List Account without having to close their browser. After logging on to your preference list account, the new 'Log Off Pref Acct' link will display at the bottom of the header portion of each LAWS page. When you are ready to log off, simply click the link. You can read more about this feature here.
A link directly to the Advanced Preference List Maintenance page can be found just under the Advanced Maintenance column on the the main Preference Account page. If you already have an account you can go here. This makes it easier to access the advanced maintenance features. Previously, users needed to go to the simple maintenance screen in order to access the advanced maintenance screen.
Users of Preference Lists for 2013 will be able to add notes to the bills and bill drafts on their list(s). This is handy for users who share their lists, or accounts used by groups. More information can be found here.
The short answer is, "No," you do not need a preference list. You can use the LAWS system to track bills, get the latest status and bill text, check floor agendas, and lookup hearing information without having a preference list.
The preference list will be valuable to you only if you are interested in tracking a specific group of bills throughout the legislative session. There is some setup and maintenance required to properly use a preference list. As a preference list user, you do this setup and maintenance. That said, the preference list is a powerful, and time saving feature if you want to regularly track the status of a group of bills.
If you only have a small number of bills you want to track you can use your browser's "bookmark" or "favorites" function to easily track those bills. Simply go to the bill(s) Detail Information page within LAWS and create a bookmark. If you do that, or if you are willing to look up each bill manually, you do not need a preference list. Some users prefer to not use a preference list.
First, read the terms of service below. If you understand and agree to the terms then you are ready to create your preference list account user name and password. Be sure to read the account creation screens carefully, and follow the instructions. Once you have created a preference list account, you can begin using it immediately.
It is important to understand that the creation of a Preference List is a 4-step process. Step 1 - Create a Preference Account. Step 2 - Signon to the Preference Account. Step 3 - Create the Preference List (or lists). Step 4 - Add bills and/or drafts to your list.
The Preference List is a free service of the Montana Legislative Services Division designed to assist legislative information "power users" who track many bills. No guarantee of service or performance is given or implied. While the intent is to provide and maintain this service for the current legislative session, it may be shutdown, or the addition of new service accounts may be stopped at any time.
For 2013, Preference List users have the option of using a "NOTES" functionality that allows them to make individual notes for each of the bills and bill drafts contained on their list. Users of this feature should understand this information is stored on a public server, paid for and maintained with public funds, and therefore may be subject to disclosure upon request.
This service is not supported except through the Preference List Help page. Most users should be able to use this service without much trouble by following the instructions on the help page. If you need additional assistance you should contact a consultant or other resource to assist you. As a free service, the Montana Legislative Services Division can not, and will not be able to assist you.
Users of the Advanced Preference List Maintenance area of LAWS need a web browser that supports "frames" and a PC that will operate at a screen resolution of 800x600 or higher.